What's the Difference Between a Cheeseburger and a Hamburger?

Cheeseburgers and hamburgers are two of the most popular types of burgers. While they may look similar, there is one key difference between them: cheese. A cheeseburger is a hamburger topped with cheese, usually added shortly before serving so that it melts. This simple addition can make a big difference in flavor and texture.

The term “hamburger” is a general term that refers to minced meat served on a bun, regardless of any condiments or toppings you add, including cheese. There are numerous variations of a hamburger depending on the ingredients, the meat, the condiments or the techniques used to prepare it. For example, pork is relatively cheaper than beef, so some people use pork to make hamburgers. With the arrival of new types of meat to make hamburgers, the term “veal hamburger” was coined to distinguish the specific type of meat used in a hamburger.

The idea of adding cheese to burgers originated with Lionel Sternberger in the 1920s. He experimented by adding cheese to the hamburgers they served at his family business called Rite Spot in Pasadena, California. The melted cheese in the sizzling burgers added additional flavor and spectacle to the burgers, making them a popular topping. However, according to Merriam-Webster, “hamburger” means “a sandwich consisting of a hamburger in a divided bun, usually round.” This definition seems to indicate that a “cheeseburger” is a type of “hamburger” since nothing specifically states that adding cheese will make this “hamburger” stop being a “hamburger”.

Hamburgers have evolved over time to adapt and respond to people's changing needs and preferences. Applying this difference, if you put a whole chicken breast or shredded chickens on a bun, this doesn't make a chicken burger but a chicken sandwich. In conclusion, while cheeseburgers and hamburgers may look similar, they are not the same. The key difference between them is cheese - without it, you cannot call it a cheeseburger.

However, a cheeseburger can still rightly be called a hamburger because it is still made with minced meat served on a bun.

Valerie Jhanson
Valerie Jhanson

Avid food enthusiast. Freelance coffee fan. Professional tv ninja. Hipster-friendly travel guru. Extreme thinker.